Socialism and Equality

PhotographerMatthew Sherwood is a freelance photojournalist...
PrizePress / Feature Story
Entry Description

Attaining equal rights for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities is a long story in any country. Cuba is no exception. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, homosexuals were viewed as counter-revolutionary and heavily persecuted, often placed in hard labor camps. Numerous religions from Catholicism to those of African decent, Latin American machismo, Fidel Castro’s once publicized belief that homosexuality was a bourgeois perversion born from capitalistic decadence, and Che Guevara’s definition of the socialist “new man” – a strong, virile an overtly heterosexual and masculine man to reshape the country following the revolution - are some of the reasons homosexuals have been forced to struggle for the last sixty years. In the last ten years however, Cuba has become one of the most progressive countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for LGBT rights. In 2010, Fidel Castro took responsibility and apologized for past treatment of homosexuals in Cuba. In 2011, Cuba signed a resolution in the United Nations condemning discrimination against LGBT people. Adela Hernandez became the first transgender person to hold political office in Cuba after she was elected to the municipal council of Caibarién in the Villa Clara Province in November 2012. Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of current president Raúl Castro and feminist revolutionary Vilma Espin, and niece of Fidel, heads an organization called the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), which has be fighting for sexual education and gender equality in Cuba for years. Sexual reassignment surgery became covered by government health plans in 2008 and numerous educational campaigns have been pushed through the country. Cuba still has a long way to go to eradicate all institutionalized discrimination and prejudices in society but people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are beginning to live openly and be accepted by society.